From Player to Professional: How Flores MBA Student-Athletes Balance Academics and Athletics
December 08, 2022
In a post-pandemic world, many collegiate student-athletes found themselves with extra years of athletic eligibility upon completing their undergraduate degrees. In light of this new opportunity, the Flores MBA Program’s one-year and full-time tracks have emerged as popular options for student-athletes to further their education while continuing to play sports at the collegiate level.
Currently, in the Flores MBA Program, we have students representing LSU in a variety of different sports, including cross country, swimming, softball, football, basketball, track & field, soccer, and beach volleyball. Recently, we spoke with full-time MBA student Julia Palin (Cross Country/Track and Field) and one-year MBA students Georgia Clark (Softball) and Hannah Womer (Swim and Dive) to hear about their experiences as student-athletes in the Flores MBA Program.
Read more insights from our conversation:
1. When did you begin playing sports and why did you decide to continue playing at the collegiate level?
[GC] At five years old, my parents put me into all the sports that our local youth and recreational leagues offered. Through sports, I was able to connect with people and make friendships that have lasted for over 15 years.
Regarding my decision to play a collegiate sport, recruiting was a very different scene back in 2014. I had to make the decision to play collegiate sports by the age of 12, and I committed to LSU during my freshman year of high school. So far, it’s truly been the best decision I’ve ever made.
[HW] Growing up with three siblings, my family was always active and competitive. My parents put us in sports year-round, so I grew up playing tennis, soccer, gymnastics, field hockey, and really anything to keep me busy and tired. I did not specifically fall in love with swimming until I moved to California at age 12 and participated in a summer swim league. Soon after, I joined a year-round team where I immediately started dropping time and realized that I had a chance to swim at the collegiate level.
Since I was 13 years old, I was driven to achieve my dream of competing at a D1 school. In my junior year of high school, I started taking visits and receiving offers, and decided to dedicate my undergraduate experience to Florida State University. Today, I feel lucky to have the opportunity to keep pursuing my athletic goals at Louisiana State University while obtaining an MBA in the Flores MBA Program.
2. What do you find the most rewarding part of playing collegiate sports?
[GC] The most rewarding thing about playing sports in college is the people you meet along the way. LSU has allowed me to meet so many individuals through athletics that I never would have met otherwise. Also, through LSU Athletics, I was able to gain an internship with Nike, a company that I had envisioned working for since I was five years old. We form unbreakable bonds as college athletes because we can relate to things that others may not fully understand.
[JP] The most rewarding part of playing collegiate sports is being a part of something bigger than yourself and being a part of the family here at LSU. LSU Athletics provides us with endless resources to be successful; there are so many people invested in our care. From coaches and athletic trainers to academic advisors and supporting staff, there is an entire village behind every athlete’s success. Every single person involved in LSU Athletics, whether they are an athlete or a staff member, invests an incomprehensible amount of blood, sweat, and tears into their work, and the best feeling is when we get to see it pay off.
3. Being a collegiate athlete certainly takes up a lot of your time. How do you balance being a graduate student and an athlete?
[JP] It is all about discipline. I personally thrive off having a very intense schedule where I am told where to be, when to be there, and what to do. We are forced to manage our time well because if we do not, we cannot perform. Something my dad always told me is that there are three aspects of college: school, sports, and social life, and you can only be great at two of them. While my social life may suffer, the discipline I am learning from excelling at my sport and academics is beyond worth it to me. It does not feel like I’m making sacrifices since I’m prioritizing the two most important things in my life.
[HW] Being a student-athlete is mentally and physically difficult. To balance my studies in the Flores MBA Program with athletics, I have had to master time management skills. Staying on top of my work will always be my number one priority. I have made a lot of sacrifices to get to where I am today, and even though it is sometimes hard to choose homework over a relaxing night, all my experiences thus far have been worth the sacrifices.
4. What does it mean to you to be a woman in collegiate athletics?
[GC] Throughout this past year in sports, we’ve celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Those women had to lead a charge in a place where there were no celebrations or fans watching them. They did it for the love of their games and the will to endure whatever obstacles were presented to them. I think they would be so proud of how far we have come in continuing to push the sport forward. This is the largest platform I will ever have in sports, and all I want to do with it is to make sure a person watching me can relate or connect with something they see in me and know that there’s a space for them too.
[JP] I cannot even begin to imagine my life without sports. I owe a world of gratitude to all the women that came before me and fought for us to have equal opportunities. The fact that I almost never have to worry about missing an opportunity solely because I am a woman means everything to me.
When I am finished running, collegiately and/or professionally, I hope to pursue a career in public relations in the NFL. I am so thankful for the strides that women have made in asserting themselves into this traditionally male-dominated field. We now see female assistant coaches, analysts, scouts, and front-office personnel. I will never be able to repay the women who fought for a chance, and the men who gave it to them. It is because of those people that I don’t have to feel like my dreams are impossible.
[HW] To be a woman in college athletics today means that every day I get to wake up and have opportunities that some women were never allowed to experience. I am thankful for the generations of people that fought for me to have the ability to be here pursuing my second degree and living an athletic dream. Even when I am having a bad day, I try to remember how many people would love to be in my shoes.
About the Flores MBA Program
The mission of the LSU Flores MBA Program is to remain competitive in the national and regional markets while fostering learning, leadership, and networking in a global business environment. Full-time, executive, and online tracks are offered and provide schedule flexibility for those wishing to pursue their MBA from a nationally recognized program. For more information, visit mba.lsu.edu or call 225-578-8867.